Twitter revealed plans for new-look “Tweet” buttons a few months ago, but some of the intended changes weren’t quite clear at the time.
Some users are concerned about the loss of the share counter, which Google described as “simplifying the Tweet button by removing the share counter alongside the button.”
There are solid technical changes behind the share counter update. For the last five years, the share count has been displayed by querying private JSON endpoints hosted on various domains.
Third-party developers have used these to retrieve a simple share count of any URL, but the endpoints shut down when the Tweet button lost its share count feature.
The company says in a blog post that “the Twitter REST API’s search endpoints are the best way to gather ad-hoc information about a URL shared on Twitter.”
Pay to count
However, Twitter goes on to say that “full-archive search counts are available from Gnip.” (Gnip is Twitter’s data business, which it purchased last year.)
This has led some developers to be concerned that they will be out of pocket if forced to use the new “pay for” system.
App developer Gary Preston of Coverage Book commented: “Since learning of this inevitable change we’ve been busy talking with Gnip (the only official commercial provider of Twitter data) and testing potential solutions using the various streams of data that are available for purchase. We’ve left no stone unturned.
“Unfortunately none of the paid data streams provided by Gnip are a direct equivalent to the simple social share count that’s been in place up until now.”
The sharing of Tweets can play an important role in a marketing campaign, but their importance may be over estimated by some.
Over a ten-week period, social media sharing was monitored by the UK Government’s digital team; they found that “way less than 1%” of visitors used them. The team summed up their findings by saying: “It’s fair to say that introduction of sharing buttons on GOV.UK didn’t exactly set the world on fire.
“During the time period we analysed, GOV.UK URLs were shared a total of 14,078 times to Facebook and Twitter using our sharing buttons – that’s 0.2% of the total of 6.8 million pageviews.”